Saint Paul, MN- Today, Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL-Saint Paul) held a press conference to celebrate National Latinx Heritage Month, 2023 legislative wins that uplift the Latinx community in Minnesota, and to rally for the development of the first Minnesota Museum of Latino Arts. National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15th to October 15th, is a time to celebrate the rich culture and contributions of the Latinx diaspora in Minnesota and across the United States.
Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega released the following statement:
“As a Boricua/Puerto Rican leader, I am proud to represent our beautiful and diverse Latinx diaspora. We have a force in Minnesota, with strong roots in social justice activism, entrepreneurship, healthcare, education, and the arts. We are also rich in culture and heritage, with a deep connection to our ancestral lands. Let us be orgullosos (proud) every day and work together to create a more just and equitable society for all.”
In Minnesota, the Latinx diaspora represents over 20 Latin American countries, each with their own unique culture, practices, and traditions. Latinx Minnesotans are enriching the state in many ways, through local businesses, agriculture, music festivals, and authentic cuisines.
“This past legislative session, lawmakers took major steps forward to make Minnesota a more safe, healthy, and equitable state for people in our Latinx communities to thrive,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “As we prepare to wrap up Latinx Heritage Month, this is a good opportunity to celebrate our progress, including Driver’s Licenses for All, the ability of undocumented Minnesotans to obtain affordable health care, and actions ensuring our BIPOC neighbors aren’t left behind during our clean energy transition.”
Consul Esteban Cadena Duarte, Consulate of Ecuador in Minneapolis, stated in his speech at the press conference:
“It is important to highlight that the share of Latinos in the U.S. who speak English proficiently is growing, and that, in the same vein, the Spanish language is increasingly being used in the U.S., with about 62 million people. This demographic trend calls for an even greater commitment, from all interested parties, in promoting and safeguarding access to affordable basic services and needs, as well as spaces to showcase and embrace our cultural heritage, for our Latino population in this warm-hearted state, recognized for its collective approach towards humanitarian undertakings and embracing diversity.”
The 2023 Minnesota Legislature passed a number of bills to support Latinx and undocumented residents, including, driver's licenses for undocumented residents, in-state tuition for undocumented students, protections for migrant workers, and language access to government services. These bills will enable undocumented Minnesotans to drive and work legally, provide new educational and healthcare opportunities for undocumented students and migrant workers, and improve access to government services for Minnesotans who speak limited English.
“Our legislative wins mean that my family will no longer have to live in fear of driving, that my diabetic father who suffers from chronic illness will now have access to life-saving care, that our community’s workforce will have access to green training and jobs, and that our youth, like my younger brother, will have the opportunity to learn about our culture and our history,” Regina Olono, Leader with Unidos MN. “Our legislative wins are not only Latine history but are also part of the history of Minnesota. The development of a new Latino Museum will celebrate our right to have our own history documented and preserved for future generations because our community continues making Minnesota history every single day.”
Rep. Pérez-Vega has introduced legislation to invest in the construction of Minnesota's first Museum of Latino Arts on Saint Paul’s West Side. An initiative of the Rondo Community Land Trust and the West Side Community Organization, the museum would be a valuable educational and cultural resource for all Minnesotans. The museum would teach visitors about the rich history and culture of the Latino community in Minnesota, as well as the many ways the Latino diaspora has enriched our state. It would also create a sense of community and pride for the Latino community and be a place where all Minnesotans can come together to learn and celebrate.
“Latino artists have made significant contributions to Minnesota’s art and culture, but their work is often underrepresented in museums and galleries,” Rep. Pérez-Vega added. “We must establish Minnesota’s first Museum of Latino Arts to fill this gap and give Latino artists the recognition they deserve. Pa'Lante siempre!”